Israeli students discover extraordinary 900-year-old collection of women’s jewelry

How did 900-year-old rings, bracelets, earrings and hairpins end up in the kitchen of a Crusader fortress tower in Modi’in?

Some 2,500 students from schools in Modi’in, in the center of Israel, and volunteers involved in an Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) archaeological excavation in the town have recently chanced on a fascinating find: an extraordinary 900-year-old collection of women’s jewelry.

Just how did 900-year-old rings, bracelets, earrings and hairpins end up in the kitchen of a Crusader fortress tower in Modi’in? The question may not be on the students’ next history exam, but it fascinated them as they participated in an archaeological excavation close to home.

The archaeological site, Tittora Hill, is unique and fascinating. Located in a strategic area, on the main route that climbs from the coastal plain to Jerusalem, it is surrounded by fertile valleys that were farmed and supported the hill’s inhabitants for generations.

Avraham Tendler, excavation director for the IAA, said that the students were working in the inner courtyard of the Crusader fortress when they found the collection.

The fortress’s occupants cooked and baked there for hundreds of years during the Middle Ages, some 900 years ago. Ancient clay ovens, cooking pots, jars, serving dishes, and a table were discovered in the ancient kitchen, as well as remains of food, such as olive pits, pulses, charred grape pits and animal bones.

“It seems that the cooks of the time were not sufficiently careful with the jewelry they wore while cooking and baking, since numerous pieces of jewelry have been found in the excavation, some made of bronze and silver,” Tendler said.

Contention between Antiquity and Modernity

The volunteers are currently working on exposing a large building from the Roman period, hidden beneath the Crusader fortress.

The local municipality is working on establishing an urban nature park on the hill, which will make the site more publicly accessible. It hopes that the project will continue for many years and enable local residents to carry on peeling away the site’s ancient layers, exploring its treasures, and connecting to it in an exciting, hands-on way.

Mayor Haim Bibas of Modi’in said that Tittora Hill “symbolizes the connection between ancient Modi’in and the glorious history of this part of the country, and the modern city that exists today.”

By: Aryeh Savir, World Israel News